After spending days locked in fierce debate, our global team of GameSpot editors and video producers has finally assembled a ranked list of the 25 best games of the year. Our list is informed by an array of tastes and preferences, reflecting our team’s diverse gaming backgrounds and opinions. We’ve spent the last four days counting down our picks, showcasing an abundance of games ranging the biggest triple-A offerings to the smaller indie experiences. WIthout further ado, here is our choice for number one.
Despite being another entry in the multiplayer shooter space, Overwatch becomes something different every time you play it. One match is a battle of attrition. Another is an unstoppable assault. Another is a tug of war between staunch defenders and vigilant assailants. You can snipe from the balconies of a Japanese rotunda or defend your team with energy orbs as you invade the frozen climes of a Russian factory. Overwatch is a shooter that contains a multitude of smaller shooters within its hectic sphere.
This is due in large part to Overwatch’s cast. From a renowned Russian champion to a rollerblading Brazilian DJ, Overwatch contains a variety of international cultures and funnels them into distinct, personality driven characters for a diverse and lively cast of heroes. If you play as Ana, a mother who has come out of hiding to aid her friends, you’ll be watching over your team, healing comrades with medicinal bullets and biotic grenades. Play as Reaper, on the other hand, and you’ll be phase-warping from ledge to ledge, flanking opponents and shredding them with your dual shotguns. There is no one way you must contribute to your team’s success: Overwatch is bold and balanced enough to let you play how you want.
The shooter’s map design is the sturdy glue holding the disparate characters together, and a masterwork in the craft of multiplayer arenas. Choke points become virtual battlefields. Sightlines create lethal opportunities for skilled snipers. Varying elevations necessitate constant situational awareness and increase the verticality of already intricate maps.
Through colorful, intricate character design and stellar sound mixing, Overwatch creates a vocabulary of its own, wherein characters are recognizable from a distance, and the phrases “Justice Rains From Above” or “It’s High Noon” are both cause for the opposing team. Overwatch is a game that unfolds as you go, and the more you play, the more you’ll master the initially simple mechanics of each character. More importantly, you’ll learn how to counter each character. This is a shooter that rewards players willing to decipher its intricacies.
But perhaps the most amazing aspect of Overwatch is how well each of the aforementioned parts contributes to a fantastic whole. It reminds us why shooters can be so thrilling. Overwatch ran the risk of overreaching when it pulled inspiration from numerous shooters throughout the years, yet it found a way to balance it all. It found a way to encourage dozens of different playstyles. It found a way to craft the best shooter in a year full of superb shooters, and in the process, became the best game of 2016. – Mike Mahardy
GAMESPOT’S TOP 25 GAMES OF THE YEAR
GameSpot will be revealing its staff’s personal top 10s, the most anticipated games of 2017, and more all throughout December. Click here to see the full schedule.